Superstorm Sandy, with a wave of Internet pictures announcing her debut, looked more Hollywood-produced than reality-produced and has left millions without power as well as 26 dead Americans.
“My childhood best friend is at school in Boston,” said Andrea Schindler, a senior from Ashburn, Va., studying geography. “I was really worried about how the storm would affect her and kept Facebooking her sister (also a student at BYU) to see if she’d heard anything.”
Sandy has been one of the worst disasters the East Coast has seen, with the wind damage alone costing the federal government somewhere around $7 billion, according to CNN. The damage in New York City was described by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as “enormous,” especially to subways and the resulting power outages that left hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in the dark.
Brooklyn Day, a recent BYU graduate living in Manhattan, started taking precautions over the weekend.
“Some wards ended early,” Day said. “Everyone was preparing. I went to the grocery store and stocked up on liters of water and imperishable food, just in case we lost electricity. We filled our bathtubs and charged all of our phones and computers.”
With the subways closing at 7 p.m. Sunday, Day said the city seemed to stop moving. Residents stayed inside and prepared for the storm to come.
With her apartment on the Upper West Side, Day never lost power or experienced any flooding. Her friends living in Chelsea weren’t as lucky. They experienced furniture flying off balconies, flooding and debris in the streets and facades of buildings destroyed.
“My mom and dad called every few hours,” she said. “When I woke up this morning I had a million missed calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages — everything. People I hadn’t spoken to in months made an effort to call and check on me. It was really thoughtful.”
Schools and businesses across the northeast were closed. Schindler’s childhood friend, Gina Gabriel, who attends Wellesley College in Massachusetts, said the school shut down for the first time in 28 years.
The family of a BYU student lives in Long Island City and had flooding occur in their neighborhood. For residents of Long Island City, one loss they have experienced is that of a local park, locally nicknamed Shady Park. But the park is longer shady; trees were completely uprooted, covering the playground.
Joanie Pape and her husband Joseph served their missions in New York. Having seen the city through a missionary’s eyes, they said, the people they were most concerned about were the “common” New Yorkers, the ones whose livelihoods would be affected most from the storm.
“The majority of our friends in New York struggle to make ends meet,” Pape said. “If the trains and buses aren’t running, they can’t get to their jobs. If their apartments are damaged, they can’t recover those losses.”
Pape said for the past couple days she has been glued to her computer screen searching storm updates and trying to contact friends on the East Coast.
“Thankfully, the majority of the people we’ve been able to contact are doing OK,” Pape said. “Beside the enormous inconvenience of the power outages and the transit being shut down, they’re happy to be alive and unharmed. This storm could have been so much worse. I feel like I can relax now.”
The storm has passed from the more populous regions of the East Coast, but now easterners are on the long road to recovery.
Mia Gabriel is from New York and drew from some experiences from family to write this article.